We are continuing in siman 5, and left off with a question about the halachic requirements regarding uncovering parts of the body at home.
We learned that the Shulchan Aruch writes clearly that one must be tznius at home, based on the Gemara of Rav Yosi. This obligation applies to men and women equally. The Rambam understands it is a unique practice for talmidei chachamim, but the Shulchan Aruch applies it to all people. We learned that Reb Moshe understands it is not a full-fledged chiyuv, but an appropriate action. Reb Moshe understands that even according to the Shulchan Aruch, it is a good practice for all people, but it is not binding, so at a time of need one can be meikil.
The application of this halacha will apply to women as well, in that it is a good practice but not halachically binding. However, to be clear, a “good practice” does not mean one can do it when or if they feel, but that it should be one’s standard practice, unless there is a specific time of need.
We mentioned a machlokes regarding whether a woman has a chiyuv to cover her hair at home. According to the Rambam, one is chayav to cover her hair at home; according to Tosfos, one is not chayav. This machlokes will extend to other parts of the body as well, but we will differentiate between parts of the body which are intrinsically ervah, and parts of the body that are considered ervah because they are normally covered (what we have previously referred to as non-primary ervah). There is no machlokes that the primary ervah must be covered even at home. According to the Rambam, non-primary ervah must be covered at home, and according to Tosfos, there is no chiyuv to cover them at home, but the “standard practice” of the Shulchan Aruch above will apply.
Even the areas which have a halacha of primary ervah, if there is a real need, one is also allowed to uncover them, as we learned from the Gemaras previously (shiur 1550) about uncovering one’s arm for kneading dough, or uncovering one’s leg for washing clothing.
Otherwise, these areas must be covered, even if no one else is present. This requirement applies to hair as well. The poskim suggest that the reason that hair must always be covered is in case someone walks in, and more than a tefach is uncovered. Alternatively, the issue has nothing to do with someone walking in, but simply because Hashem’s presence is everywhere, and it is the appropriate level of tznius for even hair to be covered.
We learned that the Mishnah Berurah follows the opinion of the Bach, that there is a chiyuv for a woman to cover her hair even at home, and, according to what we have learned above, it will apply to her body as well. Therefore, to be careful about the opinion of the Mishnah Berurah, It is appropriate for a person, even at home, to be careful how they cover themselves. In a situation of pressing need, there is room to be lenient, but otherwise, the appropriate practice is to remain covered, even in their home.
It is appropriate for a person, even at home, to cover not only their hair, but their entire body as well. In a situation of pressing need, there is room to be lenient, but otherwise, the appropriate practice is to remain covered, even in the home.